Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Amphi Festival, Cologne: an epic gothic gathering in Germany

There's a lot to say about Cologne in Germany - the famous fragrance comes to mind, as does the iconic twin-towered cathedral dominating the city's skyline. The next thing I think of is the easy-living riverside drinking, and perhaps the famous locks of love affixed to Hohenzollern Bridge.

What you might not know is that for nearly a decade Cologne has been hosting a huge gathering of alternative music fans, bringing together punks, goths and dark techno addicts in an explosion of neon hair, black lace and flamboyant parasols.

Hohenzollern bridge and the Dom in Cologne at twilight - and an array of incredible
costumes at 2013's Amphi Festival. Images © Anita Isalska.
Amphi Festival, held at Cologne's Tanzbrunnen Open Air arena, saw a whopping 16,000 music lovers make a pilgrimage to the city in 2013. Despite being a music festival regular, my jaw was on the floor when I saw the level of love (and lacework) that had gone into the outfits.

More of Amphi's best-dressed, from parasols to wings to fake blood -
and leather, whatever the weather. Images © Anita Isalska.

Full Victorian ball gowns, leather kilts, elaborately stitched corsets and buckets of fake blood - it was like wandering around a macabre pantomime. Don't get me wrong, Normal Matt and I had put in some effort, but hats and feathers and fishnet is really nothing when you are facing off with a horned fairy princess in a pink corset and wings. Amazing.

Gross St Martin Church in Cologne, and the colourful taverns
of Fischmarkt. Image © Anita Isalska.

Cologne is the perfect city to host a parade of darkly fantastical characters. The Dom (cathedral) is among the more awe-inspiring in Europe, and is the largest Gothic church in northern Europe. It's hard not to gasp when you see its intricately carved facade - the largest in the world - right in front of you as you leave Cologne's main train station.

Panorama of Amphi Festival in Cologne. Image © Anita Isalska.
Outside the festival grounds, mojitos were being muddled into the early hours at the cocktail bars in the Alter Markt, at the kind of prices that make a (now) London girl reluctant to return home.

Bridge over the Rhine in Cologne, Germany. Image © Anita Isalska.
As many times as I visit Cologne, I always feel certain I'll go back. One thing is for sure, though - I'm coming back next year with a better costume.

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